This whole entertaining business is something I've fantasized about for awhile now (yes, I really do fantasize about such things). There's nothing I love more than gathering people especially around food and drink. It's the basis for everything that is good in my world!
But entertaining in our tiny 650 square foot apartment wasn't exactly ideal. So now that we're living like royalty with luxurious extra 250 square feet in the new digs, I've been taking a crack at entertaining menus on the reg. I'm so into it that I may or may not have even gone as far as starting to map out our holiday menus….gotta stay prepared!
In all seriousness, there's something so energizing about strategically planning out a menu to impress your friends and family. A good menu isn't just something that will keep people happy and satiated while you're partying the night away, but it's the blank canvas for you to tell your story as a cook. Whether you're wanting to showcase your socialities or just highlight the season's best, creating a killer entertaining menu is your chance to shine!
When creating menus, my rule of thumb is to include:
- 2-3 appetizers for drinking and socializing, particularly appetizers that can be eaten in no more than two bites or be scooped up on a chip or veggie
- A hearty yet approachable main course that's appealing to the masses
- 1-2 sides to round it out
- 1 delectable, preferably handheld, dessert to cap off a great meal
Sounds easy enough, right? But before we get ahead of ourselves here, let's just rewind back to arguably the most important part of the menu: the appetizer. To quote Marshall Mathers, you've got "one shot, one opportunity" to impress your crowd. And if you're as much of a people pleaser as I am, you're definitely going to want to pull out all the stops!
At my last entertaining shindig, I followed suit and started the party off with a bang with my sausage stuffed mini peppers. Not only were they a colorful, tantalizing feast for the eyes, but they were an instant hit judging off the fact that everyone moaned in utter delight upon their first taste. So clearly they were hooked – mission accomplished!
These sausage stuffed mini peppers are a cinch to throw together as a quick party appetizer using ingredients that are never bad on anything: sausage, cheese and more cheese? What could ever be bad about that? Stuff the creamy, spicy mixture into some roasted sweet peppers aka edible vehicles for one tasty introduction. Add to to the lineup of your next party menu and there's no doubt it'll be an occasion to remember.
Sausage Stuffed Mini Peppers
- 1 lb sweet mini peppers
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 8 oz packages of cream cheese
- 1 lb hot Italian sausage
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parm, plus more for topping
- 1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice peppers in half lengthwise, leaving the stems on. Scoop out any seeds and remaining membrane. Place them on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss using your hands to distribute oil, salt and pepper evenly. Bake for 5 minutes to soften.
Remove sausage from casings (if in links) and cook in a large skillet over medium high heat, about 10 minutes. In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, cooked sausage, garlic powder, 1/2 cup Parm and parsley until creamy. Spoon mixture into pepper halves and evenly distribute. Top with more grated Parm and bake for another 5-7 minutes.
Top with more fresh parsley, if you wish, and enjoy warm.