Whether it's a fancy dinner party or a casual get-together with friends, entertaining can be a challenge for time-strapped moms. When you need to come up with creative ideas for appetizers and desserts, there are a variety of easy solutions that are as delicious to eat as they are easy to prepare, ensuring your soiree will begin and end in delicious style.
You've cleaned, you've cooked and there are still a hundred things to do before your guests arrive. That's why it's always a good idea to prepare as much of your meal ahead of time, especially the appetizers and desserts. When planning your menu, think of items that can be prepared the night before that can be served chilled or can be quickly heated and served when your guests show up. If that's not possible, prepare as much as you can ahead of time, leaving only the finishing touches to be done at the last minute. You may want to enlist a friend, perhaps another mom, to help you co-host the dinner, allowing you to share the work and divvy up the cooking duties.
When looking for appetizer ideas, try to find easy-to-prepare items that are sophisticated and tasty. Some examples that fit this description include zucchini stuffed with shrimp and feta, potato salad in radicchio cups, and bruschetta with tomato-basil topping. Another option is to marinate lamb chunks in a honey-lime dressing, skewer with melon chunks, and grill. These can be grilled ahead of time and heated briefly in the oven right before serving. One idea that will likely be as much of a hit with kids as it will be with parents is a sweet-and-spicy peach salsa, which can be served with multicolored corn chips. To jazz up your traditional vegetable platter, add sliced fennel and endive beside a bacon ranch dressing for dipping.
One of the quickest, tastiest and healthiest dessert ideas is to top ice cream or frozen yogurt with strawberries, peaches, berries or any other type of fresh fruit, especially if it's in season. Other quick dessert ideas include baked apples with honey-nut crumble, fresh strawberries your guests can dip in chocolate sauce, and individual servings of chocolate-mint mousse. A strawberry, almond liqueur and vanilla trifle is an elegant dessert that is easy to make, and can be prepared well in advance.
If your guests are also parents and will be bringing their children, it's a good idea to include some kid-friendly desserts to keep the little ones happy. One dessert that will appeal to both parents and children is chocolate banana fritters, a deep-fried delight that can be made in advance. For something with less fat, set the kids up to make their own banana splits, substituting frozen yogurt for ice cream to cut the fat. A sweet treat that also makes a great anytime snack is frozen grapes; simply place some sweet purple grapes in the freezer, and serve ice-cold for a refreshing dessert.