Here are a few sure-to-impress recipes that can be put together in less than an hour.
Roasted Garlic Hummus
Pre-made hummus doesn't even compare to the real stuff, and throwing in roasted garlic really takes this dip over the top. Roasting the garlic mellows out the flavor, and makes it easier to blend in. Some hummus purists wouldn't dream of making it without tahini, a sesame seed paste, but honestly, I've never missed it in this version (and I was tired of buying it only to use a tablespoon or two and let it go bad. We've all been there, right?)
1 can chickpeas or garbanzo beans
1/4 cup olive oil + 1 tablespoon
1 head of garlic
Chopped fresh parsley or herbs (oregano is my favorite for this dip, but use whatever you have on hand)
Pine nuts (optional)
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Chop the very top part off the head of garlic, exposing all of the cloves. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper. Wrap in tin foil, and roast for 20 minutes or until garlic is soft and brown.
- Drain and rinse garbanzo beans. Juice the entire lemon, removing the seeds.
- Allow garlic to cool, then pop each clove out with a small fork. (Here's where being the chef really pays off. Spread the extra cloves on bread or crackers to snack on...or give to your guests. But only if they're really nice to you.)
- In blender or food processor, combine the garbanzo beans, lemon juice, olive oil, 1-2 tablespoons of herbs and roasted garlic cloves (use 5-7, adding more to taste if you really, really love garlic the way I do.) Pulse mixture until smooth. Add water if you like your hummus a little thinner, or keep it chunky. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, more herbs, salt, pepper and if using, pine nuts.
- Can be served immediatly, but the flavors will meld together more if you let it chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Serve with fresh warm pita or crispy pita chips.
Pigs in a Blanket
Even as adults, we still love kid food.
2 cans of crescent rolls
1 package smoked sausage, such as andouille
1 pack of sliced cheese of your choice. (Swiss, cheddar and pepperjack all work well.)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Unwrap crescent rolls. Depending on the size of your sausages, you may need to cut them in half to fit lengthwise. Cut your cheese slices in half also.
- Wrap cheese around sausage. Place at end of triangular crescent roll and wrap the roll around the cheese and sausage, tucking in the ends.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown
- Serve with spicy mustard, ketchup or BBQ sauce to dip in.
How did this snack get its name? Maybe because you have to toss the crackers around in a container to coat them, the same way the Titanic was tossed about on the open waves. In any case, these crackers are easy to throw together, and perfect to set out with other finger food like chips or nuts.
1 box saltine crackers
1 package of dry ranch dressing mix
1 cup of canola oil
1 tablespoon of crushed red pepper
1 ½ teaspoons of garlic powder
- Whisk together ranch dressing mix, oil, red pepper and garlic powder.
- Put saltines in a large ziploc bag or container with lid. Pour mixture over crackers, and shake to coat crackers completely.
- Serve alone, or with your favorite dip.
This is one of those recipes that relies on several pre-made ingredients and very little work on your part. But hey, you did go to the store and put all together, right? You deserve some credit. And a slider, of course.
1 package mini Hawaiian rolls
1 package pre-made pulled BBQ pork (Safeway carries a Jack Daniels version spiked with alcohol, but if you're looking to go lighter, Trader Joe's has pulled BBQ chicken with half the calories. Both are delicious.)
1 pint of classic coleslaw from your grocer's prepared deli section
- Slice rolls in half. Heat BBQ according to package instructions.
- Heap BBQ onto rolls, top with coleslaw, season with salt and pepper and sandwich together.
- Bury the boxes in the trash. Serve immediately, and kick back to watch the game with all the time you saved.
Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt
While some guests may be wary at first, they'll soon be won over by the sweet/salty goodness of chocolate chip cookies dusted with flakes of sea salt.
Before putting cookies in oven, sprinkle with a small amount of sea salt (flaky salt is best, especially Maldon.) Press the salt lightly into the dough with your fingertips, to ensure it doesn't fall off on the trip from the cookie sheet to the plate.
Want to go all out? Pop the cookies into the oven at halftime, and serve them fresh and warm topped your favorite ice cream, also sprinkled with a little sea salt.
And of course, have cold milk handy. No one can truly enjoy a chocolate chip cookie without a glass of ice cold milk.
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