Tis’ the season for gifting, merriment, parties, feasting and holiday spirit! December also seems to be the time for impromptu stop-ins by family and friends. While this is meant to be fun and casual, it can sometimes be stressful if the host isn’t aware company is coming. However, with these tips from the Traina Foods family, it’s also easy to stock up on some unique ready-to-go items to serve up when unexpected well wishers come calling. So relax, unwind and enjoy the time with friends and loved ones!
Charcuterie — The great thing about a charcuterie plate is it can be as simple or elaborate as one chooses. The items that are typically included — cured meats, nuts, dried fruits, jams and seeds all have long shelf lives, making them easy to keep on hand in case of unannounced arrivals. A variety of salamis, hams, or other cured meats pairs well with dried fruits from cherries to apricots, along with nuts, jams and seeds. Simply present them on a platter with a bottle of wine and — voila!
Cheese and Crackers — Many aged cheeses such as parmesan and others have a lengthy expiration date that makes them easy to keep on hand as well. Get creative with a variety of soft and hard cheeses as well as blends with fruits and herbs, along with artisan crackers that feature exotic grains and seeds that go beyond “just” cheese and crackers.
Drunken Raisins — For a special treat that is certain to be a crowd pleaser, Traina Foods’ “drunken raisins” are easy to make ahead and keep in the pantry to pair with cheese on any unexpected occasion. In a mason jar, combine Gewürztraminer wine, a little water and sugar, then add the raisins and let them “drink in” this sweet concoction.
Coffee and Cookies — Make-ahead shortbread cookies or gingerbread cookies can be kept in the freezer and thawed in a matter of minutes if company comes by without calling. In the time that it takes to put on a pot of coffee, the cookies should begin to thaw and be the perfect temperature for dipping in a hot cup of Joe over some great conversation with loved ones.
Don’t let unexpected visitors lead to stress this holiday season. Keep in mind that if friends and loved ones are stopping by unannounced, they aren’t expecting anything but simply to visit and enjoy the host’s company. But with a little pre-planning the on-the-spot host can be ready!