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Caribbean Cooking: Hosting Made Easy

Perhaps this is your first hosting adventure or maybe you’ve been entertaining for years. The most important thing is to put your guests’ comfort first. Make them feel welcome and relaxed. You want your dishes to be so delicious that your guests will be requesting the recipes. In short, you want to make this an affair to remember.

Set the stage (table). Use the colors of the season. This month use traditional autumn tones and put together an artful arrangement using fresh flowers, artichokes, dried leaves, gourds, wheat, eggplants, small orange pumpkins, and small red cabbages. Mix and match placemats, napkins, and wine glasses.

Use tiny terra cotta flower pots for candle holders. Wrap an artificial berry spray around the pot with floral wire. Place an autumn-color votive candle inside. These pots can also be used as place card holders.

Entertaining should be fun for the guests and the hostess. Half the fun of throwing a party is planning it; so next time you give a party, let your imagination run wild!

Complete all tasks well ahead of the guests arriving. Dress for success. Wear a fabulous outfit, people notice.

MENU:
Mini Cheese Balls
Quick Crab Bisque
Mixed Greens with Goat Cheese, Pecans, and Dried Cranberries
Sweet and Spicy Pork Chops
Sweet Potatoes
Creamed Spinach
Double Chocolate Delights

MINI CHEESE BALLS

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Chilling time: 2 hours
Makes: about 50

1 (8 oz) tub of Philadelphia Chive and Onion Cream Cheese Spread
1 (8 oz) pkg. Natural Three Cheese Crumbles or grate 8 oz. extra sharp cheddar Cheese
4 slices bacon, cooked, fined chopped
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 cup toasted walnuts or pecans, finely chopped

Mix cream cheese and mozzarella cheese until well blended. Stir in chopped bacon and seasoning. Shape mixture into about 50 balls, one teaspoon each. Roll in walnuts. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Serve in decorative dish.

QUICK CRAB BISQUE

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Serves: 8

1 (6-1/2 oz.) cans crabmeat
1 (10-1/2 oz.) can cream of tomato soup
1 (10-1/2 oz.) can green pea soup
1 cup cream or half and half
1/2 cup sherry

Clean crabmeat. Place soups, crab and cream in saucepan; heat, stirring constantly until well blended and hot. Just before serving add sherry gradually. Serve hot with bread sticks

Hint: For a Seafood Bisque, use 1 lb peeled shrimp or 1 pint of oysters instead of the crab.
Note:  For a light luncheon, serve the bisque with a Wilted Spinach Salad, French bread and Melon Balls.

MIXED GREENS WITH GOAT CHEESE, PECANS AND DRIED CRANBERRIES

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Serves: 8 – 10

Dressing:
1 Tblsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tblsp. chopped fresh thyme
3/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper

Salad:
2 (5 oz.) bags mixed baby greens
1-1/2 cups dried cranberries
1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
1-1/2 cups glazed or honey-roasted pecans or walnuts
1 –1/4 cups crumbled goat cheese

In a small bowl, whisk mustard, vinegar and thyme. Gradually whisk in the oil. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl mix greens, cranberries, onion, 1 cup of nuts and 1 cup of crumbled cheese. Mix in enough dressing to coat. Sprinkle with remaining nuts and cheese. Serve immediately.

CREAMED SPINACH

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 8

2 (10 oz.) pkgs. frozen spinach, cooked; drained well
1 onion, minced
2 Tblsp. butter
4 Tblsp. Flour
2 cups milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and white pepper, to taste

In a medium sized saucepan, sauté onion in butter. Add flour and stir until all butter is absorbed. Add milk slowly and whisk to keep smooth. Cook over medium heat until thick. Add cheese and seasonings. Stir cheese mixture into spinach and heat thoroughly; be careful not to let it burn.

SWEET AND SPICY PORK CHOPS

Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Serves: 8

8 pork chops (3/4 inch thick)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup apricot (or pineapple) preserves
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup white wine

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Heat oil in a large frying pan and brown chops on both sides. Remove chops and place in a large baking dish. Combine other ingredients and pour over chops. Cover and bake for 45 minutes or until cooked through.

SWEET POTATOES

Preparation time: 2 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes (microwave)
Serves: 8

8 Sweet potatoes
Butter
Pepper

Wash and scrub the skins of the sweet potatoes. Prick potatoes several times with a sharp knife or fork. Place in microwave. Cook on HIGH for a few minutes, then move and turn potatoes. Continue cooking until all potatoes cooked through. Remove from microwave, slit down the middle lengthwise, put knobs of butter inside and sprinkle with pepper.

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE DELIGHTS

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 18 minutes
Makes: 6 servings

3 squares Baker’s Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate
1 Tblsp. canola oil
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 egg whites
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
4 Tblsp. thawed Cool Whip (whipped topping)

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Microwave chocolate and oil in glass measuring cup on HIGH 1-1/2 minutes or until completely melted. Stir in cocoa powder; let stand at least 5 minutes.

Beat egg whites and sugar in medium bowl with electric mixer on high speed until tripled in volume. Reduce speed to medium low; blend in melted chocolate mixture until well combined. Spoon batter into 6 paper-lined medium muffin cups (muffin cups can be almost full). Bake 18 minutes or until puffed and center is set. Remove from oven; let stand in pan 5 minutes. Serve warm with whipped topping.

Capt. Jan Robinson is author of the Ship to Shore Cookbook Collection. She holds certificates from the Culinary Institute of America, The Ritz Cooking School, and the Cordon Bleu. Available at your local marine or bookstore or website  www.shiptoshoreINC.com or email CapJan@aol.com or call 1-800-338-6072. Mention All At Sea to receive your special discount.

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