Last minute entertaining

During these last few days before Christmas some of us might be worried about family and friends coming over as many people are off during this holiday time or sneak in a few extra days off to spend together. Perhaps it could be a drop by visit for 5 minutes or an informal invite for dinner or drinks, whatever it may be it is always nice to have a few key ingredients on hand in the kitchen to put together for last minute nibbles or even as a hostess gift to bring along for your next drop in get together. 
I enjoy browsing through specialty food stores, malls and department stores to find exciting food items that can make their way into my kitchen or as part of a food gift that I love giving. Locally, we have some wonderful products available to us that fit that demand and can be kept in your pantry for last minute ideas to share during this entertaining time. With a few other key ingredients you can keep on hand, you will be able to whip up fun and tasty recipes on the spur of the moment when guests arrive. 
These ingredients inspire you on their own but also make something simple turn into a tasty creation that will make people ask you for the recipe (always a good sign that’s its good).
Here are a collection of easy ideas and recipes thanks to some delicious products that you can find in various stores across Guelph. Be sure to check out their websites and for more inspirations to tasty creations this holiday season and beyond! 

Prosciutto Wrapped Cocktail Stirrers
I came across these delicious cocktail stirrers this past summer and couldn’t stop eating them or using them in drinks! Perfect in a classic caesar or with a twist try them out as an appetizer too, wrapped in prosciutto already to go with their own handle! 

1 jar (500 mL) Sable & Rosenfeld Cocktail Stirrers
12 slices prosciutto or serrano ham

Drain the stirrers from the jar (reseving the juice for your caesars!), wrap each one with a slice of prosciutto and place on platter. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes 12 skewers.

Tangy Red Pepper Dip
Okay this is so easy and addictive, I couldn’t stop eating it as I was making it! I love red pepper jelly and Rootham’s knocks it out of the park, sweet and tangy with a slight hint of heat-simply delicious! Serve with crackers and vegetables.

1/2 cup (125 mL) cream cheese, softened (half an 8 oz/250 g package)
1/2 cup (125 mL) Rootham’s Tangy Red Pepper Jelly
1/2 cup (125 mL) sour cream

In a bowl, using a hand held electric mixer, beat together cream cheese and pepper jelly until smooth. Add sour cream and beat until combined well.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups (375 mL).

Ricotta Olive Bruschetta Crostini
I love using ricotta as a base for crostini, it’s creamy and tastes delicious with so many different ingredients. With the combination of Spanish and black olives, carrots and cauliflower in this mixture each bite has a unique taste.

Half a baguette, sliced
1 tbsp (15 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1 cup (250 mL) ricotta cheese
Half a 500 mL jar Sable & Rosenfeld Olive Bruschetta, drained

Brush baguette slices with oil and place on baking sheet. Toast in 400 F (200 C) oven for about 8 minutes or until lightly golden. Let cool slightly.

Spread each with ricotta cheese and top with bruschetta before serving.

Makes about 16 crostini.

Tip: You can toast the crostini ahead and then just spread the ricotta and top with bruschetta before serving.

Serving drinks is another part of this season so make the most of it and enjoy some delicious classics like these!

Using a Canadian whiskey makes this drink Canadian but by using the Whisky Cherries from Sable & Rosenfeld it truely is uniquely local and delicious!

2 oz Canadian whiskey
1 oz sweet vermouth
dash of bitters
1 Sable & Rosenfeld Whiskey Tipsy Cherry

In an old-fashioned glass with ice, combine whiskey, vermouth and bitters. Stir and add cherry. 

Makes 1 drink.

Tip: For added sweet cherry flavour, add a splash of the Tipsy Cherry juice to the drink.

Hot Chocolate
Having a jar of rich dark chocolate sauce is great to include for desserts but why not use it as the base of your creamy hot chocolate! Perfect to snuggle up with.

3/4 cup (175 mL) milk 
2 tbsp (30 mL) Rootham’s Irresistable chocolate sauce (or more if you like)
Mini marshmallows (optional)

In a mug or small pot, heat milk in microwave or stovetop until steaming. Whisk in chocolate sauce until smooth and combined. Sprinkle with marshmallows if desired.

Makes 1 drink.

Irish Caramel Butter Tarts
Need a quick dessert to enjoy for those last minute parties? Well here is something so simple, you can keep the ingredients on hand at home to whip these up anytime! 

18 mini frozen tart shells (or 12 regular size)
1/3 cup (75 mL) currants, raisins or chopped pecans
1 egg
1 jar (250 mL) Irish Style Caramel Sauce

Place tart shells onto baking sheet and sprinkle currants among bottoms of shells; set aside.

In a bowl, whisk egg until frothy. Whisk in caramel sauce until smooth and well combined. Spoon into tart shells to fill. Bake in preheated 450F (232C) oven for about 12 minutes or until pastry is light golden. Let cool completely before serving.

Makes 18 tarts.

Mini Chocolate Cheesecake Cups
These little party cups will save your entertaining life! Crisp and delicious you can fill them with sweet or savoury fillings. This decadent chocolate cheesecake filling will be one easy to pop into your mouth and enjoy with anything from a fruity red wine to a chocolate martini.

1 egg
1/3 cup (75 mL) granulated sugar
1 pkg (8 oz/250 g) cream cheese, softened
6 oz (180 g) chopped 60 or 70% cocoa chocolate, melted and cooled
1/2 tsp (2 mL) vanilla extract
30 Sable & Rosenfeld party cups

In a bowl, beat together egg and sugar until light in colour and fluffy. Beat in cream cheese until smooth. Beat in melted chocolate and vanilla until combined. Scrape mixture into a piping bag fitted with a star tip. 

Place party cups onto baking sheet and fill each with some of the filling. Alternately, spoon mixture into cups, mounding slightly.

Bake in 325 F (160 C) oven for about 12 minutes or until filling is set. Let cool slightly and enjoy warm or refrigerate for up to 1 day.

Makes about 30 mini cheesecakes.


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