I grew up in a family with five children, which meant that between my siblings and the gaggle of friends we had, my childhood was basically one interminable party. This is probably why I love having people over – I’m very comfortable in the chaos of people! I’m also not afraid of a spontaneous get-together, which is why I love to always have my kitchen staples stocked so I can put something together quickly. Here are my go-to ingredients and recipes.
Just Freeze It
Every couple of months I will make a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough – usually out of a hankering for some fresh cookies, but it’s a great excuse to pack up the rest, freeze it, and break it out when you have guests. Nothing will put a smile on someone’s face like a warm homemade chocolate chip cookie. The second best part? Since you’ve already made the dough, it will take you a matter of minutes to prepare, bake, and serve. I love this classic recipe. If you’re feeling ambitious, try these Cowboy Cookies. I still need to make this Internet sensation.
Shrimp is another easy go-to to have in your back pocket. The shrimp you buy “fresh” has actually already been frozen, so in some ways, you’re just saving a step here.
Also never underestimate the power of pigs in a blanket,baby quiche, and fun ice cubes for cocktails.
In the Pantry
If you’re preparing something last minute, it’s more than reasonable to pick up some pre-made options from your favorite grocery store or to have something delivered, but it’s nice to mix in something fresh and homemade too, which is why I love to keep a couple cans of chickpeas and tahini for hummus. You’ll likely have the other ingredients on hand and if not, they’re easy to pick up: garlic, olive oil, cumin, lemon, salt & pepper. Here’s my go-to recipe.
I also love having some dried fruit and nuts – they’re great for a snack on a daily basis, and a lovely addition to a charcuterie board. Want to spice things up? Try this chili-lime spiced nuts recipe.
My husband has an obsession with popcorn (it’s no coincidence that we live within five blocks of two movie theaters), so naturally, we have a popcorn maker and a consistent supply of kernels. What I’ve come to realize, is that this is also a major crowd pleaser and quick fix for unexpected guests. There are a plethora of flavored popcorn recipes you can make at home and find here.
Tortilla chips are a cheap, easy, and versatile addition to your pantry. They go well with hummus, salsa, and guacamole. Speaking of, we can’t forget the power of the avocado. Here are 39 recipes you can make with your favorite green fruit. Of course, the challenge with avocados is opening them up at the peak time; here are some tried and true ways to ripen an avocado.
Raising the Bar
Make no mistake about it, there’s an art to stocking your home bar. The first rule of thumb is to stock alcohol you actually enjoy imbibing, and from there, this is when it’s good to be basic: Gin, Vodka, Bourbon, Scotch, Tequila, and Rum will give you the base you need. If you have those on hand, all you’ll have to do is pick up some mixers. Our friend Patrick Janelle gave his tips on easy cocktails to make for a group here.
It’s also handy to have some bottles of white, red and rosé wine stocked, and a bottle of champagne in your fridge is always a good idea. Need to chill your wine in a hurry? Check out our tips.