I recently posed the question to my friends and followers, “What keeps you from entertaining?” I received some excellent answers and I’m working on a whole series to address some of those concerns – so please stay tuned. But in the meantime, I thought I would share this recent afternoon snack setup – as it simply addresses a few of the concerns I have heard thus far.
“I am not a good cook.”
Only two of the items involved any prep time at all and it was very minimal. The sausage cheese dip only involved browning a pound of sausage and dumping into the crockpot with two cans of Rotel and to block of cream cheese and stirring until melted and well blended. This is a pretty substantial dip, so it needs a heavy duty chip. We served on Fritos scoops but also works on tortilla scoops. Here’s the recipe to pin for reference.
The pumpkin bread was from the super-easy Trader Joe’s mix. Honestly you just add oil, water and eggs and keep it from burning up.
Tossing a block of cream cheese (Can you tell I really like cream cheese?) out and dumping pepper jelly (yes, it’s a thing and yes it’s delicious) on top, and serving with Wheat Thins is about the best tasting, easy, grown-up snack you can do.
The rolled sandwiches were bought in the freezer section and thawed before serving, but you could easily do your own. I figured I had worked enough cream cheese into the menu so I went with these.
Cookies were purchased in the grocery store deli because I liked the variety pack and for a few dollars, it was much easier and cleaner to buy than bake.
If you come to just about anything at my house, you are going to have grapes, strawberries and blackberries. It’s always nice to have something for those who are watching what they eat and fruit works for pretty much everyone (even those low-carbers among us enjoy an occasional strawberry).
“I can’t get everything ready at the same time.”
As I mentioned before, only two items required any cooking at all. The sausage dip was put on 4 hours before and kept warm. I wasn’t sure that I was going to be able to get the pumpkin bread out of the pan in one piece (I am not the best at prepping pans or removing things patiently), so I went ahead and made it earlier in the day. Everything else just involved putting it on a serving dish. And since our small group meets 4-6 pm, it fell in between meal times, but gave me plenty of time to make sure I had everything together.
“I don’t have a fancy house or serving dishes.”
This was a casual snack buffer for our church small group, and it was most practical to just serve from the kitchen island. When you are not having a sit-down meal, everyone usually ends up gathered in the kitchen anyway. I wanted to dress the island up a little so I layered a scrap piece of burlap with a runner I have had at least 15 years. I splurged on $7 tulips from Kroger because the color was so gorgeous. I easily could have just gone with a pumpkin or potted mum.
I am a sucker for beautiful napkins – these came from Tuesday Morning – but will rarely spend much on disposable plates. These were leftover my youngest’s birthday party.
The fruit was on one of my favorite glass patterns “Star of David.” It’s just inexpensive pressed glad, but I love it.
The cookies were on the Southern Living at Home Dress Me Up Plate – so you know I have had that for a while. I have definitely gotten my money’s worth out of it. Don’t y’all miss Southern Living at Home? (I’ll have to tell y’all about my internship with Southern Living Homes and Gardens Editorial Department back in the 1990s one day!)
You know how you pick up those clear plastic serving dishes at Dollar Tree and you wonder if anyone actually uses them? Well yes ma’am they do. The bread and sandwiches are on those.
In the spirit of keeping things real – I was excited to use the monogrammed cheese plate with the matching spreader I received as a gift – so excited in fact that I somehow managed to wash and dry it without taking the made in China sticker off the server. I noticed it about halfway through, and just buried it deeper in the cream cheese. I did check afterwards to make sure it had not come off on anyone’s serving.
So there was definitely no “over the top” applied to this simple snack buffet, but it was well enjoyed and appreciated. It serves as a quick little example of how you show practical hospitality with just a little time and effort.
Stay humble, work hard, be kind.