Friday night entertaining

Friday night is not the best night for company when you work full time but our friends had family in from out of town and last night was the only time we could get together.  We had a cookout – chicken and burgers on the grill.  I used some “crabbies” from the freezer for pre-dinner snacks and made dessert Thursday night (a repeat of the extremely popular ginger snap sandwich cookies).  The guacamole salad only took a few minutes to assemble and the deviled eggs are a snap.  I invented a new variation on my potato salad which I was very pleased with – apparently everyone else was too because it was all eaten!  Here is the full menu with recipes:

Crabbies

  • 12 English muffins, split
  • 1 lb lump crabmeat
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 TB mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Melt butter.  Add cheese, mayonnaise and garlic powder.  Gently fold in crabmeat.  Spread muffin halves with crab/cheese mixture.  Freeze in freezer bags until ready to use.

To serve, preheat oven to 375.  Bake on cookie sheets for 10 minutes.  Using a pizza cutter, cut each muffin half in 6 pieces.  Serve hot.  (For those who like a lot of spice, top with red pepper flakes.)

Deviled eggs
Classic picnic food – not the easiest to transport but worth the trouble.
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
Place eggs in a pot just big enough to hold them and add water to cover.  Bring to a rapid boil, reduce heat to just simmering and cover for 17 minutes.  Remove from heat and add cold water and ice cubes to stop cooking.  Chill eggs in refrigerator.  Peel eggs and cut in half.  Put yolks in a bowl and mash with a fork.  Add Worcestershire sauce, mustard, paprika and mayonnaise.  Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.  Fill egg whites with filling and top with additional paprika.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Grilled Chicken Sandwiches

  • boneless, skinless chicken breasts (Perdue Perfect Portions work really well!)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 – 2 TB chopped fresh herbs of your choice (I used a mix from my garden – parsley, sage, thyme, marjoram and rosemary)

Wash and dry chicken breasts.  Put in a glass dish with all ingredients.  Mix well and marinate up to overnight.  Drain off marinade and grill until done.  Serve on hamburger buns with toppings – lettuce, tomato, red onion, etc.  NOTE: Chipotle mayonnaise is great on these!

Guacamole salad

  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 yellow pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • zest of 2 limes
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 avocados, diced

Combine tomatoes, yellow pepper, black beans, red onion, jalapeno and lime zest in a bowl.  Whisk together lime juice, olive oil, garlic and cayenne pepper in a separate container and pour over veggies.  Mix well.  When ready to serve, add avocados and stir to combine.

Lemon chive potato salad

I usually make my potato salad with dill, scallions and mayonnaise mixed with lemon juice.  I wanted something a little bit different and was thinking about the delicious flavor of the grilled lemon chive potatoes that we often serve.  I decided to make a lemon chive potato salad.  Here is what I did:

  • 20 oz small red potatoes
  • 2 TB minced chives
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • fresh ground pepper

Cook potatoes in boiling water until tender.  When done, drain and put in a glass bowl.  Chop in the bowl using two knives.  Top with fresh ground pepper and chives.  Pour lemon juice on potatoes (it’s important to do this while they are still hot.)  Toss well.  Add mayonnaise and stir.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Ginger snap sandwich cookies

  • Ginger snap cookies – I used Anna’s ginger thins
  • 1 stick butter softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 4 TB cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp milk

Combine butter, vanilla and confectioner’s sugar together with a mixer.  Split in half.  For chocolate add 4 TB of unsweetened cocoa powder and 1 tsp milk.  Beat until spreadable.  For lemon add juice and zest of 1 lemon and beat until spreadable.  Spread on ginger cookies and sandwich together.  Freeze until ready to serve.

Holiday entertaining

Part of the fun of the holidays is spending time with friends – admiring decorations, exchanging gifts and enjoying time together.  With all of the chaos of the season, it can feel overwhelming to figure out what to serve.  If you aren’t used to entertaining, start small.  Here are two make ahead savory appetizers that you can have on hand – giving you the flexibility for spontaneous invitations.

Cheese Puffs

  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 4 TB softened butter
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp celery salt
  • paprika

Using a mixer, cream together cheese and butter.  Add flour, salt and celery salt and mix thoroughly.  Mold into balls rolling in your hands (make balls about 1 inch in diameter.)  Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet.  Using the tines of a fork, press fork in both directions on each ball to make a waffle pattern.  Dust with paprika and chill several hours (or overnight). Bake at 450 for 8 minutes. 

These keep well in a cookie tin and can be easily reheated in small batches in a toaster oven.  They should be served hot and are a nice light appetizer with a glass of wine.

Crabbies

  • 12 English muffins, split
  • 1 lb lump crabmeat
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 TB mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Melt butter.  Add cheese, mayonnaise and garlic powder.  Gently fold in crabmeat.  Spread muffin halves with crab/cheese mixture.  Freeze in freezer bags until ready to use. 

To serve, preheat oven to 375.  Bake on cookie sheets for 10 minutes.  Using a pizza cutter, cut each muffin half in 6 pieces.  Serve hot.  (For those who like a lot of spice, top with red pepper flakes.)

Whenever my grocery store puts crabmeat on sale, I buy a pound and make a batch.  They are wonderful for last minute company and everybody seems to like them, even my 4 year old!

Keep a jar of nuts on hand and bake a batch of your favorite cookies.  Then call a friend you haven’t seen in a while or a neighbor you don’t know that well and invite them to come by and have a drink and see your tree!