I've heard Ina Garten aka Barefoot Contessa say that while she loves entertaining, she doesn't miss out on the most fun part of entertaining which is spending time with her guests. To this end, she preps meals ahead of time for the main dish (popping a prepped whole chicken in the oven early in the evening or simply grilling a pre-marinated steak when guests arrive) and lays out yummy, ready-to-eat store-bought snacks as appetizers. I have turned to this more for stress-free dinner parties so I can actually enjoy my guests' company vs. turning into a hot mess because none of the 8 things I planned to make from scratch are ready.
This is all a long way of saying that I made a sub-average steak when Bart and Jesse came over for dinner (lesson learned: never experiment with something totally new when you have guests), but at least these appetizers killed it. Thanks Mariano's and Japan. Oh and leftover butternut squash soup.
- Roasted cashews (just season them with salt, pepper, and chili-garlic seasoning and put them in the oven for 15 mins at 350F)
- Japanese chili oil (from our recent trip to Kyoto)
- Japanese colorful nuts...yeah (Kyoto)
- Leftover butternut squash soup (some variation of a previous version I made)
Arrange everything nicely on artsy plates and bowls. That's all.