I used to LOVE to entertain. So did my aunts. But ever since I opened my design business, my bandwidth and energy level both contracted. Yet, I still love to host people here in the beautiful home I designed for my family and me…I mean c’mon! Part of the joy of having a beautiful nest is sharing it with friends and family.

Now when I DO host a dinner party, keeping things easy and elegant is a must. So with the holidays upon us, here for your pleasure are some of my super easy go-to appetizers when company is coming. They require minimal ingredients and prep. Enjoy!

1) Blue Cheese Spread: In a food processor, combine 3 parts blue cheeses to 1 part light cream cheese. Blend, adding a small stream of skim or whole milk to achieve a creamy but non runny consistency. Scoop into small bowl, garnish with crumbled blue cheese and chill until serving,

2) Honeyed Walnuts & Cheese

The night before serving, combine large walnut pieces or halves with honey, until generously coated. Let stand, covered at room temp.

Serve in a small bowl with a spoon and set on top of a cheese and cracker board. Delish on sharp, creamy cheeses to include the blue cheese spread above.

3) Focaccia with porcini mushroom oil and ricotta lemon zest I “stole” this from a favorite restaurant in Philadelphia. Into a shallow bowl, pour store bought porcini mushroom oil. To the center, add a generous dollop of ricotta cheese. Finely grate lemon zest on top of the ricotta. Serve with ripped grain bread or focaccia. Dip and drag a of piece of bread through the cheese and oil …and prepare for a slice of heaven.

4) Edamame (soy beans in the shell). Found in an Asian super market’s frozen section. Boil according to directions. Strain and season generously with sea salt. Serve room temp. Crazy easy.

5) Sausage bites with assorted mustards. Purchase and diagonally slice specialty sausages. Sauté until brown. Serve on a pretty platter with tooth picks and an assortment of mustards; one sweet, one spicy, and one Dijon.

6) Seafood salad in endive. Separate, rinse, and dry endive leaves.

Fill with store bought seafood salad. Arrange on silver tray.

7) Caprese skewers. Onto long wooden cocktail skewers (found at a party store) thread the following: 1 cherry tomato, 1 miniature marinated mozzarella ball, 1 fresh basil leaf. Repeat. Lay on platter and drizzle with a thick, gourmet balsamic vinegar.

All super easy! Keep it elegant with the serving dishes you use. Add candles and fresh flowers and you’re golden.

If you’re my idol, make your own seafood salad and focaccia like I used to do.

If you’re tired and busy like me, park your store bought guilt at the door.

…I pardon you. 🙂

And above all…enjoy your own party!!