Sponsored by Woolworths
o you guys have one of those friends that’s slightly over ambitious every time they cook you dinner? Or they’re just really bad at figuring out how long things take? I have a friend like this. I’ll arrive at his house toting my obligatory bottle of red wine at 7.30 expecting there to be a flurry of activity as the last minute touches are applied to a dinner that should be served within half an hour of my arrival. This friend of mine, bless him, will usually be standing in a pile of grocery bags, calmly pouring me a drink as he’s ‘about to put the roast on.’
I love him dearly but roast is not a meal that you start cooking after your guests have already arrived. I’m no Emily Post but if I’m falling asleep from a belly full of nothing but wine and it’s almost 10pm by the time I get some meat in my pie hole, that’s some poor party planning right there. The trick to efficient Christmas entertaining is planning and shortcuts my friends and as the smug owner of a Type A personality, I’m an expert at this. I can make a gourmet-ish, 3 course meal in about half an hour because I’d much rather be drinking wine with my guests than making jus or some kind of weird flavoured foam in the kitchen. I’ve popped together a few ideas from a dinner that Mr Smaggle and I hosted recently to give you some inspiration for last minute, quick Christmas entertaining this season.
1. Chicken sticks
You can buy pre-made ones but if you don’t fancy any of the flavours on offer you can buy fillets of chicken, chop them up, shove them on sticks and pan fry them for a tasty entree. These ones are made from the Lemon Pepper Smashin’ Chicken Fillets from the Created With Jamie Range ($20.95 per kilo) from Woolies and they are the absolute bomb. They’re really light and not slimy like some other chicken skewers can be. (Just FYI: Mr Smaggle ate 5 for dinner last night because he’s a greedy little piglet). You can also grab Jamie’s chicken skewers if you don’t want to get your hands all grubby – all his chicken prods are made with free range chicken BTW and they taste bloody brilliant . Tip: Chicken skewers are best for an entree if your main dish is light or vegetarian.
2. Cheese board
Probably the easiest of all entrees is a simple cheese board. Whack a few cheeses, some dips, crackers, dried fruit and almonds on a chopping board and you’re good to go. Added bonus with this one is that it’s totally Instagram worthy too.
3. Snack sized bruschetta
Bruschetta is dead easy to make – just grab an Italian breadstick, slice it up and brush it with olive oil. Then dice some tomatoes and add finely chopped garlic, basil leaves, salt, pepper, olive oil, a teaspoon of sugar and a splash of white wine vinegar. Mix it all up in a bowl and chuck it on your Italian bread slices.
4. Sausages and salad
Let me tell you a secret… most people really love sausages. If you throw a couple of sausos on the BBQ and whip up a simple salad with olives and fetta, there aren’t many people who would complain about a dinner like that… unless they’re vegetarian in which case do tofu instead!
5. Easy meat and veg
If you, like us, lack a BBQ don’t despair! You can always grab a pre-marinated piece of beautiful meat and pop it in the oven or pan fry it. For this dinner we used the Created With Jamie Sweet Pepper Butterflied Beef Rump ($23.50 per kilo) and holy sweet potatoes was it delicious. It was so tender and I can’t even describe the flavour – kind of peppery and sweet I guess? I can’t really remember, I was in a blissful beef coma. We cooked it in our Sous Vide first (details here) and then seared the outside in a fry pan but you can BBQ it or roast it too. We popped a few veggies in the oven to go with it – dutch carrots, pumpkin, potato, garlic and sweet potato sprinkled with thyme. Although roasts take a while to cook they’re fairly low maintenance… you just pop them in the oven and leave it there till it’s ready. Just make sure you leave enough time for it to cook so you can serve your guests before midnight! Tip: This beef was SENSATIONAL the next day served cold on a salad.
6. Simple pasta
Discounting pasta as a dinner party appropriate main dish is a rookie mistake. Pasta can be very fancy while still being quick and cheap. Try my chilli, prawn and basil pasta. It’s a major crowd pleaser. Even my dad likes it and he hates pasta… and chilli.
7. Stewed fruit and yogurt
For this dinner we just popped a few peaches, nectarines and plums in a baking dish with some fresh vanilla and sugar and baked it for about 10 minutes on 200 degrees until the grill. Then we served it with yogurt and honey and it was bloody delicious! All the juices kind of caramelise and it looks way fancier than it actually is. Tip: Left over stewed fruit is amazing with yogurt for breakfast.
8. Ice cream sundaes
Sometimes if I’m super desperate for a quick dessert, I’ll serve ice cream with topping and some kind of fancy chopped up chocolate like Lindt and my guests have never been happier. Keep it simple. No one’s expecting a rainbow layer cake, believe me.
9. Chocolate salad
My mate Nikki got me on to the concept of Chocolate Salad and Christmas is the perfect time to whip it out. You know all those boxes of chocolates you received from work mates and friends over the Christmas season? Pop it all in a bowl and serve it with Bailey’s Ice Coffees. Best. Dessert. Ever. Tip: This one is brilliant for teachers who end up with a whole K-Mart shelf worth of chocolate at the end of every year.
Do you have any last minute panic meals that you make when you’re entertaining?
P.S. The Created with Jamie lemon chicken and butterflied beef are both gluten free (according to the ingredients) but just make sure you check for any allergy ingredients before you buy them. All the products in the range are pretty good though, there’s no preservatives or weird filler ingredients in them which is brilliant for a GF household.
P.P.S. I totally wanted to try the Tutti Frutti pie for this post but it was sold out! Gutted! Has anyone tried it? Was is super delicious?
P.P.S.P.S. – For more recipes and entertaining ideas make sure you follow Smaggle in these places – Facebook, Twitter, Bloglovin, Instagram and the Smaggle weekly newsletter – it’s going to be a glorious summer full of recipes and delicious things!