Always wonder how those perfectly hospitable women entertain so easily? How are they always so prepared? The truth is, they probably aren’t always equipped with appetizers galore and freshly baked cookies 24/7. They might just have a few key pantry items that allow them to always be ready for anything that comes their way.
You can appear to have it all together too if you remember these key, non-perishable pantry must-haves for quick and easy entertaining.
You can use olive oil for just about anything. Whether it’s dressing a salad, cooking a gourmet slab of meat, or dousing pasta salad, it’s versatile by nature, making it a pantry necessity.
Jarred and Marinated Vegetables
Marinated vegetables, such as, olives, artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes are packed with flavor and can boost the blandest of dishes! They’re quick, easy, and the best part is that they don’t spoil for years. Have them hidden away in the back of your pantry only to use for emergency entertaining. You’ll find they’re the perfect ingredients to accompany any Italian dish.
In fact, they’re so easy, you can even serve them as is on a platter with cheese and crackers! You can get marinated veggies from any supermarket, or for the tastiest types, check out your local delicatessen.
Always keep a look out for inexpensive, dry pasta on sale when out and about, and stock up on it. When unexpected company shows up, boil a pot of water, throw the shells in along with a pinch of salt or chicken stock powder and get creative. Italian-style pasta salad is a hit among guests, and is especially impressive when whipped up, spur of the moment.
Drain the water and add olive oil, jarred black olives, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, salt and pepper, and you are good to go! Fresh ingredients, such as broccoli, salami and herbs, can enhance the dish, but aren’t necessary. Remember, you’re whipping this up on a whim – it will be impressive either way!
Wine and champagne make for elegant entertaining, but if you don’t have any on hand, even stocking up on Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider can liven up an otherwise average evening. Make a point of buying a whole case of your favorite brand next time it’s on sale at the supermarket. You can keep it for years and be assured that you will use it all!
Stemware is always fun to use while having guests over. Fill it with something fancy and enjoy with friends!
Boxed Brownie & Cookie Mix
Now for the best part: dessert! Baking shows you care and will curb everyone’s sweet tooth. When friends come over for the evening, show them how much you value their friendship by serving fresh brownies or gooey chocolate chip cookies right out of the oven. It will look like you slaved in the kitchen all day, making them from scratch, when, in fact, all you did was add oil and eggs, or even just water in some cases!
Buy the boxed mixes, usually only a few dollars each, and store them away for the right occasion. 20 minutes before your guests arrive, break out the box, stir together the ingredients, and pop them in the oven. Once your guests are settled in and have helped themselves to your impressive pasta salad and sparkling beverage, the house will fill with the wonderful smell of baking brownies, and within a half hour, the brownies will be ready for them to enjoy.
You might not ever see your friends as happy as the moment those brownies come out, served with a nice glass or wine or sparking cider. They’ll feel loved, surprised, and honored to call you their friend. You, in turn, will feel like the best hostess on the planet, just short of Martha Stewart. (And the best thing is, no one, not even Martha herself, will need to know those brownies came from a box!)