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Be prepared for unexpected guests with these Last Minute Entertaining Ideas plus a one-pot recipe for Caliente Chicken Spaghetti.
Caliente Chicken Spaghetti
It is the time of year for entertaining family and friends, and sometimes those guests show up with little to no notice. At least the casa crew does! I like to have simple, elegant snacks and wine on hand, plus a stash of easy one-pot recipes, just for those occasions. Folks can enjoy a glass of wine and nibble on a cracker while I whip up dinner.
I keep a basket in the pantry with the basic entertaining supplies we need for when last-minute visitors pop by. Snacks, wine and pasta are holiday staples. Festive napkins and paper plates, plastic utensils and holiday cupcake liners are in there too. The liners are a great for holding cookies, veggies or snack mixes. The basket stores easily on top of a basic serving platter.
Pepperidge Farm Cookie Collections and Pepperidge Farm Cracker Trio are great to have on hand because they offer guests a variety of options, plus they are convenient for the busy hostess. Serve them with dips or spreads, either store-bought or something you throw together with whatever is in the fridge, for a festive holiday snack platter.
One quick trip to Walmart and my emergency guest basket is fully stocked with ingredients for delicious appetizers, easy dinners and premium wines.
Recently Paul had friends in the neighborhood and we invited them over for a last minutes dinner. I grabbed the basket and jumped into action. There was ricotta, mascarpone and herbs in the fridge so my dips were covered. They just needed a little honey, dried cranberries and walnuts.
I like to start by setting everything out to get a sense of what I am working with. Small bowls are versatile and perfect for the dips, olives, pickles or any other items you want on the platter to pair with your crackers and cookies.
Next set everything up so you know it will fit. I tend to put too much on the platter, crowding everything together. These bowls were the perfect size for the roasted garlic herbed ricotta spread, and the honey sweetened mascarpone dip with cranberries and walnuts I served. Basic white dishes and linens are a good entertaining staple, you can pair them with different accents and they really let your food stand out.
~ Roasted Garlic Herbed Ricotta Spread ~
- 8 ounces ricotta
- 8 cloves of roasted garlic, mashed into a paste
- 1/2 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flake
To make this spread mix everything together and salt to taste. You can make ahead and store in the fridge. The flavors will intensify the longer it sits.
~ Honey Sweetened Mascarpone Dip with Cranberries and Walnuts ~
- 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 chopped walnuts
- 1-2 tablespoon half and half
In a medium bowl mix together mascarpone, honey, cranberries and walnuts. Add half and half to reach desired consistency. It is very tasty with the Pepperidge Farm Harvest Wheat crackers!
Everyone hung out in the kitchen enjoying treats, sipping on Clos du Bois wine and chatting while I made dinner. It is a fun, casual way to spend time with friends during the holidays. Click below to find a tasting or pairing event at a Walmart near you for all your holiday entertaining needs.
Barilla Pronto pasta was perfect for this Caliente Chicken Pasta. I love that you can add it to the pot and it cooks with everything else. Canned stewed tomatoes with Mexican spices and caliente chicken sausage from a local market already had so much flavor I didn’t have to add much else.
We love hearty sauces so big chunks of tomatoes, onions and peppers were a nice addition. You could easily adapt this recipe with your favorite produce. Seasonal eggplant, zucchini or butternut squash would be a great vegetarian substitute for the sausage.
We had a great time catching up with Paul’s friends over dinner. The snack platter was a big hit with everyone and all the flavors melded together. The Clos du Bois Cabernet Sauvignon was elegant enough to serve with the delicate cookies but approachable enough to pair with the hearty pasta.
Be sure to check out more holiday entertaining ideas on Simple Entertaining. I’d love to hear about your favorite holiday recipes, tips and tricks!
- 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ pound caliente or spicy chicken sausage
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 small green bell pepper, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 14.5 ounce can stewed tomatoes, Mexican flavor
- 1 pound box no-boil spaghetti
- 3 cup chicken stock
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat oil in a covered skillet or Dutch oven over medium high heat.
- Add sausage, break up and cook 3-4 minutes.
- Add onions, peppers and garlic, cook 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in stewed tomatoes.
- Add pasta to pan.
- Pour in stock, make sure if fully covers pasta.
- Cover and turn to high. Cook covered 10 minutes.
- Removed lid and toss pasta with sauce. Cook 2-3 more minutes to adjust consistency.