Top Ten Favorite Holiday Dishes for Easy Entertaining- Part One

During the holidays, most of my days are filled with making cookies by the thousands. By the time the weekend comes, I want to entertain and have my friends over, but I am pretty tired at the end of most weeks. That’s why I plan ahead to make having people over a breeze.

First of all I keep the meals really simple. Think Roast Chicken, wild rice and homegrown carrots from the root cellar.

Appetizers are easy spreads and breads that I have squirreled away from my trips to the gourmet stores.

Dessert is sometimes a production if I have energy or It’s fresh fruit and ice cream if I don’t.

Here are a few do ahead dishes that work great for easy dinner parties. Sometimes I let my guests bring things, but most often I tell them to just bring themselves and a nice bottle of wine.


Simple roast Chicken is always a welcome comfort of winter-

Martin’s Roast Chicken- By far the most popular post on my blog. It’s a winner for sure, and I love how it makes the house smell like chicken and garlic…

Lately, I have been roasting some local birds, it takes a little longer because the average is about 7 pounds, but the results are worth the wait.

Martin’s Roast Chicken, Photo by Dave Ballard

 Martin’s Famous Roast Chicken (click on title for link to post)


Keeping guests busy in the kitchen-

Risotto is a great dish for entertaining. Although it’s not a do-ahead, all the ingredients can be prepped ahead of time and assembled at the last minute. The main advantage of serving this dish is that gives that person that comes over that always wants to help in the kitchen.

With Risotto, you have to stand over it for about 20 minutes, adding stock. But you can have a glass of bubbly in your hand while you are doing it..

Wild Mushrooms are the best!

Wild Mushroom Risotto


Apres Ski Bowl of Green-

Vail Green Chile Pork Stew is fast becoming a favorite in our house. Great for a casual meal around a fire or a pot on the stove for drop in guests, it holds like a champ. I know it’s chilly outside to be entertaining, but bonfires are great reasons to have people over. You can eat it standing up with a chunk of cornbread on the side of the bowl. It’s great for after ski parties too. At our cabin in the woods, we have a lot of winter company and I make a big pot of Green Chile and serve it right by the fire for a late afternoon lunch.

Cook it until the potatoes are tender..


Vail Green Chile Pork Stew


It’s the Minnesota State Dish for a reason-

Hotdish- one word. Casserole for the non Minnesotans. Talk about a great do-ahead meal that warms the heart! I serve mine with a Louisiana Influence-  crawfish tail meat. It can be purchased at of all places Walmart. I serve with with home made crusty bread and a big green salad.  It works great for a crowd of say 10-15 people, just make a couple of them.

Crawfish, ready for the pot


 Crawfish Hotdish


Martini Chicken is perfect for a Mediterranean Dinner Party

This recipe can be totally done the day before and reheated. It’s the ultimate easy entree.

Great for pot luck dinners, as it can be reheated in the microwave. I make it with Chicken thighs. Meaty and full of flavor, they hold well while waiting for guests.

Martini Chicken


Martini Chicken


Stay tuned next week for more easy dishes for entertaining…

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